Think you’re having deja vu? Think again. You’re not reading my online advertising news round-up from a couple of weeks ago. There’s just been even more news that we know you need to know about. Sometimes it feels like it never stops.
Here are the latest updates from Google, Facebook and the other top ad platforms, so you can stay on top of the changes that might affect your campaigns.
Responsive display ads now support video content
Google has been going bananas with announcements recently. Up first: YouTube advertisers can now feature videos in their responsive display ads.
For those who don’t know: Google Ads uses machine learning to create the dynamic, visually engaging units known as responsive display ads. Basically, you upload the copy and the creative assets. Then, Google Ads algorithmically determines the best combination according to the content on the web page and the size of the user’s screen.
Selecting videos for responsive display ads in the Google Ads UI. Via Google.
Up until recently, “creative assets” meant images and GIFs. Now, YouTube advertisers can expand their reach by running their video ads across the Display network via responsive ads.
Not only do responsive display ads drive more impressions (due to Google Ads’ increasing preference for them) and more clicks (due to greater visual appeal) than the other Display Network ad types; they’re more accessible than the other ad types, too.
Whereas creating and optimizing standard banner ads requires a dedicated design team (or an agency), responsive display ads require nothing by copy and visual content—which, if you’re really crunched for time, Google Ads can generate for you based on your website content.
To make this news all the more exciting, Google Ads has released two new features in step with this announcement:
- The new combinations report tells you which combinations of copy and creative drive the best results for your business on the Display network.
- The new ad strength scorecard gives you insights into how you can improve your responsive display ads.
Google Ads expands call-only ads with extra text
In the coming weeks, Google Ads will expand your call-only ads by giving you extra room for written copy. Specifically, you’ll get to play with two extra 30-character headlines and a 90-character description (rather than an 80-character description, as was previously the case).
Plus, Google Ads has created a designated field in the description box for your business’ name. That way, you can use all 60 of your extra headline characters to communicate value to prospects.
The business name field is highlighted. Via Google.
With call-only ads, advertisers can drive phone calls to their businesses directly from the mobile SERP. This ad type offers a tremendous opportunity to advertisers who prioritize phone calls with prospects as a conversion action.
For example, if you’re the owner of an HVAC business and you offer a 24/7 emergency repair service, running call-only ads is a great idea. That way, when homeowners in desperate need of A/C repairs see your ad on the SERP, they can immediately connect with your business.
And now, with 70 extra characters of text, there’s never been a better opportunity to drive action with call-only ads.
Target launches a third-party marketplace
Big, big news in the ecommerce sector: Target has announced the launch of its third-party marketplace, known as Target+.
Third-party marketplaces, like Amazon’s and Walmart’s, allow ecommerce businesses to sell their products alongside those of the host companies—thus giving those third-party businesses access to massive consumer bases.
Whereas any ecommerce business can apply to sell its products on Amazon or Walmart, Target will hand-pick the businesses that get to sell on Target+. For the meantime, it’s an invite-only platform. This relieves Target of the headache that comes with having to monitor the marketplace for inappropriate and offensive products.
Up until now, third-party businesses have been selling to consumers indirectly through Target’s website. According to this system, Target sold the products, and the third-party businesses shipped them. Now, Target+ sellers will take care of selling and shipping entirely by themselves.
As far as user experience is concerned, Target+ products will be integrated into the main Target website. Shoppers won’t need to navigate to a specific site to buy from Target+ vendors.
Google Ads to sunset average position metric
In line with its growing emphasis on automated solutions, Google Ads has announced that September 2019 will mark the end of average position—a Search metric that advertisers have used to inform their manual bidding strategies for a long, long time.
Ad position—as determined by your bid and your Quality Score—refers to the order in which the paid search results appear on the SERP. It doesn’t, however, refer to the location in which the paid search results appear on the SERP. You can win the top ad position in a given auction and still appear below the organic search results.
In November 2018, Google Ads rolled out the four metrics you see below. Evidently, the team at Google thinks these give advertisers more insight into their auction performance and SERP visibility than average position does.
- Top impression rate
- Absolute top impression rate
- Top impression share
- Absolute top impression share
Google Ads offers a number of automated bidding solutions that enable you to optimize your ad groups and campaigns for these metrics.
If you want our full perspective on this news, as well as a couple action items you can take with you, check out this blog post.
Facebook enables advertisers to target premium video content
In an effort to connect video advertisers with the nearly 100 million Americans who watch premium video content across Watch, News Feed, and Pages every month, Facebook has announced the launch of a brand new ad program called Showcase.
Now available to US advertisers, Showcase is home to three products:
- In-Stream Reserve. Hundreds of publishers and creators share engaging, high-quality video content across Watch, News Feed, and Pages. With In-Stream Reserve, you can buy placements in advance and at a fixed cost. Nielsen, the massive data and measurement company, verifies the audiences.
- In-Stream Reserve Categories. This features everything you get with In-Stream Reserve plus the ability to tailor your messaging according to the content users are consuming.
- Sponsorships. You can be the sole sponsor of a program.
The chief selling point behind Showcase is that the content you can target with In-Stream Reserve is far more popular than TV among Americans between the ages of 18 and 34. Plus, Facebook studies show that In-Stream Reserve drives positive ad recall lift among users.
If you’re already advertising through video and you’d like to serve contextually relevant ads to young, engaged US audiences, Showcase may be the solution you need.
Google extends Merchant Center to all ecommerce businesses
Ecommerce businesses no longer need to run Google Shopping campaigns to have access to Google Merchant Center—the platform that enables retailers and brands to upload their product data feeds and update product information in the Google search results in real-time.
Shopping advertisers have always had access to Merchant Center. In fact, you can’t run Shopping campaigns without using Merchant Center. Ecommerce businesses that don’t use Google Ads, however, haven’t had access to the platform up until this point. Instead, those who want to display their product information in Search and Images have needed to add structured data markup to their websites to ensure Google indexes the information correctly.
Not anymore. Now, even if you don’t run Shopping campaigns, you can upload a product data feed to Google Merchant Center. Your products will still be limited to the Search and Images results, but you won’t have to pay a dime.
In effect, Google is giving you the ability to provide online shoppers up-to-date product information for free. That’s what we like to call a slam dunk.
Of course, given the effectiveness of prominently presenting your product image and details at the top of the SERP, we do recommend that you give Shopping campaigns a try. Nonetheless, if you lack the bandwidth to take that on at the moment, you should certainly create a Merchant Center account at the very least.